Tuesday, July 5, 2011

“Curiosity equals obstacles”

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Can you imagine holding your breath for two to three minutes underwater, trying

to go through a pitch black tunnel risking it all, just to prove victory to yourself? This

short story,“Through the Tunnel,” written by Doris Lessing describes the main

character Jerry, as a curious, mature eleven year old English boy who is visiting South

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Africa with his widowed mother. With his mother’s openness, he is given the chance to

run freely around without her. His curiosity lures him to discover an underwater tunnel.

This curiosity about the tunnel creates a variety of obstacles; finding its entrance,

practicing his lung capacity, and finally overcoming his fear. These obstacles that he

faces will either enhance his life or take it away .

Discovering that there was a tunnel was not too much of an obstacle, but finding

where the opening was proved to be the difficult part. The salt burned his eyes, and

he could not see a thing under the blue pool of salt. “Down he went, until he touched

the wall of rock again. But the salt was so painful to his eyes that he could not see”

(8). This was an obstacle to Jerry, because he had to go out of his way to get

goggles from his mother. He had gotten goggles because he needed to see clearly

without pain from the burning salt, and to find the tunnel’s entrance. With his new “fish

eyes,” he could see everything underwater clearer. “Now, he could see. It was as if

he has eyes of a different kind-fish eyes that showed everything clear and delicate and

wavering in the bright water” (8). As he was clinging to the rocks, his legs happened

to glide through the entrance. He had found the tunnel and was ready to start

conquering his dream.

Knowing the tunnel was six to seven feet underwater, Jerry had to be able to

hold his breath for a great amount of time. “Under him, six or seven feet down, was a

floor of perfectly clean, shining white sand, rippled firm and hard by the tides” (8).

For Jerry this was an obstacle that held great importance, because once he entered,

there was going to be no turning back. Already he knew, he must train at a slow

constant pace, so that he would not strain or hurt himself. From day one he has

repeatedly practiced for hours holding his breath. He practiced again and again by

anchoring himself down with a rock, and counted to himself underwater. Jerry slowly

increased his seconds in holding his breath but one day he worked himself a little too

hard. “That night his nose bled badly. For hours he had been underwater, learning to

hold his breath, and now he felt weak and dizzy” (). Although, he knew he was over

doing it, Jerry put his lungs to work for the next couple of days. He had rested one day

with his mother, because she insisted that whatever he had been doing had got to

stop because of the severe nose bleeds he had been getting. The next day, he did not

even ask for permission and went to the tunnel that lays motionless beneath the rocks

to continue his trainings.

Finally, the most important obstacle he had to face was overcoming his fear.

Two days before he had to go home was his last opportunity to take that risk of going

through the tunnel. It was either now or next summer when he would return. When

he went under the water to practice holding his breath for his last time, he had a

severe nose bleed and a throbbing, dizzy pain in his head. For the first time he

actually was scared. “He was frightened. Supposing he turned dizzy in the tunnel?

Supposing he died there, trapped?” (100). Although he had set a new record of

holding his breath for two minutes and fifteen seconds, was he really going to risk his

life trying to go through the tunnel? After his nose stopped bleeding, he peered down

the crystal clear water and made his decision. He was going to go through the tunnel.

“He would do it if it killed him, he said defiantly to himself” (100). Once he was in the

tunnel, Jerry saw the shining green light between the cracks of the tunnel, he was filled

with hope of coming out alive. He reached the tunnel’s end and basically floated up to

the surface. He was filled with victory and happiness; he had made it through.

Was curiosity a big issue to the obstacles Jerry faced? Did his mothers decision

of letting him roam around freely affect his curiosity and actions as well? I believe that

the obstacles that Jerry had to face deals a lot with the curiosity the eleven year old

had. If his mother was more protective about him, maybe he would have not even

known about the tunnel, or have taken such a risk. It was a dangerous risk that was

taken alone without anyone knowing about. This was a risk that could have taken his

life then and there. Jerry was still free to roam around and was curious from the start,

so maybe the obstacles that had come to him was meant to be. Obstacles in this story

enhanced the meaning, made it more interesting to read, and made the story

complete. I believe these obstacles in “Through the Tunnel” were important because

they taught hidden messages that all ages could relate to. It has taught self discipline,

and left an important message behind to all readers; take action to get your desired

dream. Instead of just dreaming, Jerry has visioned, practiced, then lastly he lived his

dream. This “short story” has vital information, themes, and descriptive obstacles in

which is just as meaningful as any other novels or any other readings.

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